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Arizona Gov. Hobbs joins 21 other governors to ask Supreme Court to uphold access to abortion drug

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs joined 21 other governors to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling limiting access to a widely used abortion drug. 

Hobbs is a member of the Reproductive Freedom Alliance, a coalition of Democratic governors who want to protect access to abortion in their states. 

The Alliance filed an amicus brief arguing the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals erred when it reinstated rules requiring Mifepristone to be prescribed in person after multiple doctor’s visits.

The Supreme Court in March is  set to considerwhether or not to leave in place a lower court’s ruling that added restrictions on how the abortion drug Mifepristone can be prescribed or dispensed.

Since 2016, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed the drug to be prescribed via telemedicine appointments.

The Alliance says the governors rely heavily on FDA guidance, and the appeals court decision undermines their ability to protect public health in their states.

“Most state executive branches simply do not have the resources, expertise, or authority to serve as mini-FDAs,” according to the brief. “Governors therefore rely heavily on the federal/state division of authority, which tasks FDA with studying the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs and making approval decisions based on its knowledge and expertise, and tasks Governors with developing and executing solutions in reliance on FDA’s approval decisions and expert judgment.”

In a separate  amicus brief, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes and 23 other attorneys general argue the lower court's decision should be reversed.

They say limiting access to Mifepristone could increase risks, costs, and delays for patients seeking to end pregnancies. And they say the additional restrictions would undermine the FDA’s drug approval process.

The Supreme Court put the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on hold and will hear oral arguments in the case on March 26.

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Wayne Schutsky is a broadcast field correspondent covering Arizona politics on KJZZ. He has over a decade of experience as a journalist reporting on local communities in Arizona and the state Capitol.